On Tristram Shandy and Book Buying

I’ve decided that I’m going to use Barnes & Noble’s website more often for my book-buying needs.

Our story begins two nights ago. I’d recently acquired Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story on DVD for less than five dollars. When it came out in 2006, I wanted to see it, despite never having read the book nor having any idea who Steve Coogan — who portrays himself, Tristram Shandy, and Tristram’s father Walter in the film — was. The idea of the film, though, appealed to me; it’s as much an adaptation of the novel, which is a strange discursive text by all accounts, as it is a movie about the filming of an adaptation of this unfilmable text. So, it’s a strange, metatextual film — it’s an adaptation, and it’s a documentary (well, mockumentary, really) about the adaptation. And the film is self-aware enough that it knows it’s a film; there’s a point where it tells you to watch the DVD extras, for instance.

I’m getting all Tristram Shandy-like here, going off on tangents.

So, the DVD! It’s been sitting atop my comics for at least two weeks now, and I finally put it in the DVD player. And it was absolutely hilarious. Maybe not Hot Fuzz level hilarious, but it’s right up there. (Note to self: rewatch Hot Fuzz.) It’s a smart, sophisticated humor. You really have to pay attention. And you have to be not-grossed-out by enormous, see-through wombs.

I can’t believe I just typed that. “Enormous, see-through wombs.”

Moving on.

The film, by the way has a cast that includes Gillian Anderson (and there’s a whole level of metatext to her final scene), Stephen Fry (who plays himself so well), Jeremy Northam (probably best-known right now as Sir Thomas More from The Tudors), and Kelly Macdonald (who is my first choice to play Izzy Sinclair if ever the character makes it from the comics to the screen).

After watching the film, I decided I wanted to read the novel by 18th-century author Laurence Sterne. I downloaded a text file of it from Project Gutenberg, but what I really wanted was something I could hold in my hands, that I could toss in my briefcase and read on the subway next week.

I tried Borders, not expecting them to have it. And, to no surprise at all, they didn’t.

I went to Barnes & Noble, certain that they would have The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. Only they didn’t. At all. I looked hither, thither, and yon. Perhaps, I thought, it was shelved under “Shandy.” Perhaps, I thought, it was shelved in Biography. Maybe it was being used to level a table. Surely it was there! Alas, it was not.

So, my quest unfulfilled, I went to Barnes & Noble’s website. Normally, I do my online book purchasing through Amazon, but not this time. I placed an order this morning.

And it’s already shipped!

The B&N website said it would ship in 24 hours, but I didn’t actually believe it. Amazon says that all the time, and I end up waiting days and days for them to send me a note that the book has shipped. B&N? More like four hours between order and “Your item has shipped.”

So, early next week, I’ll have The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman to keep me in stitches. :h2g2:

Thanks, B&N! Screw you, Amazon.

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

6 thoughts on “On Tristram Shandy and Book Buying

  1. I used to be a big supporter of B&N. I used to have their card for a few years. But I’ve switched back to Borders (and on occasion, Amazon).

    My thing is Borders has better coupons. As a family man with two kids and a (pretty much) single-income home, I need to find ways to save money on my book addiction. Borders routinely has 30% (and sometimes 40%, like right now) off coupons. For a trade paperback or a graphic novel, that can save me $6 to $8 or more. I only need my free Borders rewards membership.

    Barnes and Noble, on the other hand, is stingy with the coupons. Sure, the card gets you 10% on every purchase, but you can *maybe* get a 15% off coupon to use with your card. I’ve saved much more money using Borders.

    But hey, to each his own. 🙂

  2. Amazon’s “shipped within 24 hours” only applies if you pay for shipping; if you get the Free Super Saver Shipping, you’re told that your items will take an extra 3-5 (IIRC) days before they ship.

  3. Bastards! 🙂

    I got the free shipping through B&N. Yes, I had to pay sales tax, unlike Amazon, but they shipped it free the same day.

    If you think about it, making people wait on the free shipping is stupid. It takes the same amount of time to pull the stock either way.

  4. It takes the same amount of time to pull stock, and shipping costs are the same, but they’re hoping to get people to pony up for the extra $3. Or better yet, $75 for Amazon Prime. 😉

  5. I’ve been tempted to purchase Amazon Prime, but wonder if I’d every wind up using it enough to make it worth it. $3.99 overnight shipping sounds pretty awesome though. 😆

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